Oz reviews 2 - Wollongong
After Sydney I was wondering how the Gong would be. I'd never been to a concert there before and Sydney was so damn good.
My brother and I got there early and, thanks to Colin Hart, found ourselves with backstage passes for after the show (we knew about them so we came prepared) and anticipating a great night - if Newcastle 1999 was anything to go by (we had passes there too).
Roger was in the groove tonight. He was really enjoying himself and letting rip. In fact he was acting like he was 25 years old. I think I could say that he was the best man on the night.
The usual chemistry was working - it's almost as though the band are actually Siamese Quintuplets. They all just seem to know what is going on everywhere, all the time.
Ian Paice - just brilliant. My father was into jazz and loved drums. Ian Paice was the only rock drummer he would ever listen to - 'nuff said. I just wonder how he keeps going at the pace ('scuse the pun) he does. And that one armed roll!!!!!!
Jon Lord - Jon played with the consummate ease and magnificence that he so easily displays but although he seemed happy I got the impression towards the end of the concert that he wasn't completely satisfied with things. It didn't affect his playing but something wasn't quite right. Someone told me that just before his solo they heard him sounding teed off because he couldn't get a bit of quiet. His solo and intro to "Perfect Strangers" was one of the best I have ever heard - he seems to be getting better with age.
Ian Gillan - like Sydney he was prancing around like a two-year old. His performance was polished, professional and very very very good to watch and listen to. It didn't reach the heights of Sydney but then that was probably a once in a lifetime achievement as far as I am concerned. His voice was still great and he really reached out to the audience.
Steve Morse - one thing I can't work out is how this guy (in fact all of them) play during the strobe light bit. It must be really off putting. I can watch and listen to Steve all night. I got "Major Impacts" earlier in the week and his genius is evident there as well. The runs, riffs, harmonics - all played with feeling and intensity. Sheer pleasure.
The Wollongong crowd - I've never heard a reception like they gave at the end. Maybe it was because the Ent Cent was in intimate mood that the sound grew but they really lifted the roof. In fact I thought the band might come back for an extra encore for a while. Well done, guys.
Songs to stand out:
"Mary Long", "No one Came", "Fools" - I group these three together because of their rarity in live performances. That rarity must help make them special to play because they sound as fresh and new as when I first heard them.
"Hey Cisco" - when I hear this, the skill of the band makes me smell the desert and hear the horses. Love it.
"Perfect Strangers" - this is my all time Purple favourite and the guys never get it wrong. The only thing is that I heard a sort of slightly slowed down (not by much though) version once (can't remember where (damn) and it was even better than other versions I have heard. Tonight - great.
"When A Blind Man Cries" - this song is so great that it should be compulsory listening for any rock group. It is so bluesy and Ian does it so well that someone like Robert Johnson must have written it and Gillan must have some Negro in him. Sends shivers up the spine and tears to the eyes.
"Speed King" - despite one flaw (talk about it later) tonight was a damn good version. It just seemed to hit it off well despite the huge problem that existed.
"Highway Star" - same as for "Speed King".
The rest - uniformly great. You really know that these days when you go to a Deep Purple show there just ain't gonna be a dud.
Low Points: [Thought you said no duds?! Ed.]
Sorry to his fans but - Jimmy Barnes. I like only two of the screecher's songs, "Working Class Man" and "No Second Prize". To me he just can't sing and it looks like he's got constipation the way he squats down all the time. He spent most of the night looking up at Ian Gillan (well, wouldn't you) and rubbing his own head. Luckily either his mike was mixed down or he just hasn't got the power of Gillan - probably a bit of both). Retire Jimmy - you've lost it.
"When A Blind Man Cries" - like I mentioned in Sydney I would like to see this song stripped back in Steve's intro. He's a great player but this song is basic and raw. Maybe even acoustic guitar or just Jon's keyboards. But the song is damn fine though. [You mention this song both among the high points and the low points... Hope you weren't as confused at the show as I am now! :-) Ed.]
"The Aviator" - still didn't get to hear this one. DAMN!
Wasn't as great as Newcastle. A lot more people, a lot more noise and we only got to talk with Steve and Roger instead of all of them. Roger was talking with some people who appeared to be old friends or something but he still didn't show any resentment about people pushing in to get autographs. He is always a thorough gentleman and someone I respect highly.
Steve was quiet but all smiles, surrounded by fans all after him.
I took my 10 year old daughter along to Sydney and she loved it. She drew a picture of the group and the reaction of Roger and Steve when I showed them was fantastic. They really appreciated it and each wrote a little message for her on the picture. Hopefully Tony and Sue can get the others to sign it in Brisbane tonight.
We came away from Newcastle in 1999 REALLY buzzing with what happened. I felt 20 years younger. The feeling in the Gong wasn't as intense, probably because the circumstances backstage were different. BUT - whether or not Deep Purple come down under again, they have left some very enthusiastic fans who are proud to be associated in a little way with the group, just by buying their stuff and going to their concerts. To actually meet them has been a real pleasure.
Sue, Tony and Paul (the guys who set up the Oz fan club) - you guys deserve everything good. The time you spend for the rest of us is awesome and don't ever think it's not appreciated. Thanks guys. [Oi! Don't forget the good ol' Highway Star here, OK? ;^) Ed.]
And thanks to the greatest band in the history of rock - keep on going.